Asbestos was once one of the most popular materials available for construction purposes because of how well its tiny fibers could be woven into fire-resistant fabrics or used for insulation. Unfortunately, it was eventually discovered that asbestos can cause a number of diseases, most notably, mesothelioma. Let’s now take a look at some of these.


When you inhale asbestos, it stands a very good chance of becoming imbedded in your lungs. Unfortunately, the material tends to stay there for decades, slowly causing cancer to grow. By the time most people realize they have the symptoms of mesothelioma, it is often too late. The majority of people who get diagnosed with this cancer are only given a year to live and thousands will die of it annually.

Aside from the lungs, mesothelioma can also affect the heart, stomach, or testicles. It gets its name from the mesothelium, which is the thin protective lining asbestos attacks and forms tumors in.

Lung Cancer

It should be no surprise that asbestos can cause lung cancer too, given the above description of mesothelioma. However, the symptoms it causes are generally indistinguishable from lung cancer brought on by other sources.

Ovarian Cancer

Once in the body, researchers believe that asbestos can reach a woman’s ovaries via the lymph system, their bloodstream, or their reproductive tract. Unfortunately, like with other parts of the body, once asbestos arrives, it stands a very good chance of resulting in tumors.

Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer occurs in the larynx when malignant cells form. The most common reasons for it are tobacco use and alcohol consumption. However, while it only accounts for a small amount of cases, asbestos can also be a source of laryngeal cancer.

Other Forms of Cancer

Due to its ability to enter the body and travel its corridors, asbestos has also been blamed for a number of other forms of cancer too. These include cancer of the gallbladder, esophagus, throat, and kidneys.


Named after the material that causes it, asbestosis is a benign disease that attacks the lungs. Just because it’s benign, though, doesn’t mean it can’t play a contributing role in someone’s death. As it scars up the lungs so badly they can’t operate normally, asbestosis contributed to 1,400 people dying in the United States between 2000 and 2007.

Pleural Effusions

Fluid buildups that occur between the pleural layers are called pleural effusions. While they are not always caused by asbestos, late-stage mesothelioma is often accompanied by this affliction.

On their own, pleural effusions aren’t considered immediately life-threatening. However, as time goes on, they will continue to make breathing difficult or even painful. Even after most treatments, they will simply return.

Pleural Plaques

Another disease of the pleura that is not considered life-threatening is called pleural plaques. They’re essentially calcium buildups on a person’s pleura. As with pleural effusions, though, their proximity to the lungs can make breathing an arduous process.


Also known as Blesovsky Syndrome or asbestos pseudotumor, this uncommon disease is caused by asbestos and often accompanies issues with the pleura. Those with atelactasis suffer from scar tissue that contracted causing the pleural lining to bend into the lung.


Asbestos doesn’t cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, but it will put a person at increased risk of developing it. Those with COPD may also have lungs that become more susceptible to other diseases—both benign and malignant. Therefore, those who have been diagnosed with COPD should receive frequent screenings to ensure that disease hasn’t brought on more.

While mesothelioma is the disease most people associate with asbestos, there are actually a number of others this material can cause. That’s why it’s so important to see a doctor if you think you may have possibly been exposed to it.